The Science of Cotton Candy

 


The Science of Cotton Candy

Cotton candy, which is the indispensable taste of events and carnivals, was firstly mentioned in a cookbook dated 1773. Its roots go back to the time when sugar was so rare that it was kept under lock and key. Today, cotton candy is made and sold around the world; however, its name changes from country to country. It is known as “Candy Floss” in England, “Dragon’s Beard” in China, “Papa’s Beard” in France, “Sugar Spider” in the Netherlands, and “Old Ladies’ Hair” in Greece.

 

Sugar, or more scientifically sucrose, is the main ingredient of cotton candy. However, cotton candy is not produced by only using sugar. It is produced with the help of added colors and flavors. One of the main compounds used to develop the characteristic cotton candy flavor is ethyl maltol(E637). E637 is used as a sweetening and synergistic agent in the food industry. It has a significant effect on improving and enhancing the flavor of food. The reference usage of E637 is 5-50 mg/kg in chocolate, candy, and dessert. The other compound as a cotton candy flavor is strawberry furanone. Strawberry furanone adds sweet, caramel-like, cooked, and fruity nuances to food. Despite cotton candy’s colors do not contribute to the flavor, producers add colors to the sugar to attract consumer’s attention. Popular cotton candy colors are Erlosky Blue, known as Blue 1, and Allura Red, known as Red 40. 

 

Before cotton candy exists, producers have to caramelize it. Caramelization is obtained by melting the sugar. A crystal of granulated sugar, scientifically called sucrose, is held together by chemical bonds. Granulated sugar used in baking contains fine crystals that spin out unmelted, while rock sugar crystals are too large to properly contact the heater, slowing the production of cotton candy. Because of this reason, using granulated sugar is the best option. For the caramelization step, producers heat the sugar to its melting point and break these bonds into its two component sugars, glucose and fructose. These sugars break down further, freeing their atomic building blocks: carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Hydrogen and oxygen atoms reunite to form water and the carbon clusters in increasingly larger clumps. Eventually, the water evaporates, and the carbon starts to burn. Then, the sugar begins to caramelize. 

You obtain the sugar as a liquid form as a consequence of this process. When it turns into a liquid, it is spun at approximately 3000 revolutions per minute.  The molten sugar solidifies when it meets with air. When we wait for a period, we can see the cotton-like product builds up on the inside walls of the larger bowl. To gather the sugar strands into portions that are served on stick or cone, or in plastic bags, operators twirl a stick or cone around the rim of the large catching bowl. Then it is supplied to the consumer as fresh. This is the science behind the candy that looks like a cloud and tastes like all kinds of goodness.

.

CONTENT: Miray Ertürk

.

.

REFERENCES:

 Food Additives & Ingredients Supplier – Newseed Chemical Co., Limited. 2020. Use AApplication Archives - Page 11 Of 15 - Food Additives & Ingredients Supplier - Newseed Chemical Co., Limited. Phung, A., 2015. Cotton Candy.

 Siegmund, B. and Leitner, E., 2020. The Effect Of Methylobacteria Application On Strawberry     Flavor Investigated By GC-MS And Comprehensive GC×GC-Qms.

 Venzon, C., 2009. How Cotton Candy Works.